Taxi boss leading nine-vehicle convoy of donations from UK to Ukraine

Taxi driver travels more than 1,000 miles from Cornwall to Ukraine in a nine-vehicle convoy to drop off medicine, clothes, toys and nappies for refugees

  • Darren Tait, 50, travelling through France, Germany and Poland to reach Ukraine
  • Taxi boss felt compelled to act after hearing of boy, six, shot while trying to flee
  • His ‘proud’ wife Polly says they were overwhelmed by donations from locals 
  • Click here for MailOnline’s liveblog with the latest updates on the Ukraine crisis 

A taxi boss is driving from Cornwall to Ukraine in a nine-vehicle convoy to deliver thousands of donated items to desperate refugees after telling his wife: ‘I can’t just sit here and do nothing.’ 

Darren Tait, 50, who runs Darren’s Cars, in St Ann’s Chapel, was compelled to act after witnessing the harrowing scenes of civilians fleeing Vladimir Putin’s invasion – which entered its 13th day on Tuesday. 

According to Darren’s ‘proud’ wife Polly, it was after hearing the story of a six-year-old boy who was allegedly shot by Russian forces while in the car with his parents that he was spurred into action.  

He decided to fill nine of his vans and minibuses with supplies, including medicine, food and clothes, before setting off on the 1,800-mile-plus journey on Sunday.  

Darren, who was overwhelmed by donations from well-wishing locals, had reached Germany as of Sunday night and was heading to Poland.

In a video update shared to Facebook on Tuesday, Darren said he was heading towards Warsaw where he planned to meet up with an aid charity, who will load his items onto bigger vehicles before taking them ‘further down into Ukraine.’  

His wife Polly said: ‘Darren has been watching the news and it was after a six-year-old child was shot in his car with his parents that he said he couldn’t just sit there and do nothing.

Darren Tait (pictured), 50, who runs Darren’s Cars, in St Ann’s Chapel, was compelled to act after witnessing the harrowing scenes of civilians fleeing Vladimir Putin’s invasion – which entered its 13th day on Tuesday

Darren decided to fill nine of his cars and minibuses with medicine, food and clothes, before setting off on the 1,800-mile-plus journey on Sunday. (Pictured: Darren’s convoy at the port of Dover heading to Calais)

A picture of one of Darren’s vans shows sanitary towels, nappies and loo rolls among the hundreds of donated items 

Darren is travelling through France, Germany and Poland to reach Ukraine

‘Cornwall sending love to Ukraine’: Heartfelt message posted in the windows of Darren’s vehicles, which hope to reach Ukraine today or tomorrow 

‘He felt that since we have got the vehicles, we ought to try and do something.

‘We have been overwhelmed with the amount of support we have received from people.

‘My office is filling up with stuff – we’ve got 15 bags of things people have donated, plus two tents.

‘The phone has been really busy – we’ve had people saying they are shopping in Tescos and asking what we need, we’ve had Specsavers from Okehampton ringing up and people from Torpoint and everywhere. I really think we are going to need a bigger van.’

Darren planned to reach Ukraine and return to Britain within five days.

His gifts include sleeping bags, sanitary items, household products, toys for children, first aid kits and nappies. 

He has posted several video updates, saying he has been ‘humbled’ by the response.

‘The response from the Tamar Valley around Callington, Cornwall, Devon, we’ve had offers of help and donations coming in from around the country,’ he said.

Darren (pictured) was compelled to act after hearing of a six-year-old boy who was shot at in Ukraine 

One of Darren’s vans is seen filled to the brim with much needed supplies for Ukrainian refugees

Darren also appealed for people with vans to join his convoy as they had received so many donations. (Pictured: One of Darren’s vans filled with gifted items)

Darren, who was overwhelmed by donations from well-wishing locals, had reached Germany as of last night and was heading to Poland. (Pictured: Locals help Darren load his vans before setting off on Sunday)

‘It’s amazing. People are just waiting for the opportunity to help.’

Darren also posted pictures of his taxi office rammed full of donations, with staff working around the clock to sort them at the weekend.

He also appealed for people with vans to join his convoy as they had received so many donations.

‘It’s absolutely wonderful,’ he added.

Darren and nine volunteers took a ferry from Dover to Calais, and then proceeded to drive towards Poland via France and Germany, heading towards Warsaw.

He expects to be back this Thursday and has already passed through Belgium, Holland and Germany without an issue.

He said the support on the journey was ‘amazing’, with people offering money for petrol costs.

It comes as the mayor of a besieged Ukrainian suburb has described Russian artillery fire as being so relentless that residents have been unable to gather up the dead leaving dogs to ‘pull apart the bodies’.

Anatol Fedoruk, the mayor of Bucha, in Kyiv, said Russian artillery fire has been so relentless that residents have been unable to clear the dead, leaving dogs to pull apart the bodies. Pictured: A dog stands between destroyed Russian armoured vehicles in Bucha

Civilians carry their belongings as the evacuate to safety across a contested bridge at the frontline between Bucha and Irpin City. The area has been hit by heavy Russian shelling

Anatol Fedoruk, the mayor of Bucha, in Kyiv, said military fire in the region has been heavy and constant well into the second week of the Russian invasion.

As the Kremlin said it again promises safe corridors for civilians, Mr Fedoruk said a steady rain of shells and rockets continues to fall on population centres.

‘We can’t even gather up the bodies because the shelling from heavy weapons doesn’t stop day or night,’ Mr Fedoruk said.

‘Dogs are pulling apart the bodies on the city streets. It’s a nightmare.’

Corridors intended to let Ukrainian civilians escape the Russian onslaught could open on Tuesday, Kremlin officials said, though Ukrainian leaders greeted the plan with skepticism since prior efforts to establish evacuation routes crumbled over the weekend amid renewed attacks.

In one of the most desperate cities, the encircled southern port of Mariupol, an estimated 200,000 people – nearly half the population of 430,000 – were hoping to flee, and Red Cross officials waited to hear when a corridor would be established.

Russia’s chief negotiator said he expected the corridors to be in use on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Ben Wallace today ruled out enforcing a no-fly zone over Ukraine as he said an email from a worried 10-year-old girl illustrated how high the stakes are following Russia’s invasion.

Ben Wallace today ruled out enforcing a no-fly zone over Ukraine as he said an email from a worried 10-year-old girl illustrated how high the stakes are following Russia’s invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly asked the West to enforce a no-fly zone

The UK’s Defence Secretary said he had been contacted by a child who told him ‘how frightened she was of nuclear war’. 

Mr Wallace said the UK must be ‘realistic’ about how it can help Ukraine, with ministers having to strike a ‘difficult balance’ of offering support without triggering a wider NATO conflict with Russia. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly asked the West to enforce a no-fly zone but the UK has ruled out the move because it would pit NATO fighter jets against Russian fighter jets – a situation which could easily spiral into all-out war.        

Mr Wallace also questioned how effective a no-fly zone would be in helping Ukraine because while no country would be able to fly in the area, forces like Russia ‘with overwhelming artillery and missile batteries will be able to continue’. 

He also said the UK will not be supplying fighter jets to Ukraine but would support Poland if it chooses to do so. 

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